English 141A
The Essential Shakespeare





Professor Yen 
(916)  278-6176

Calaveras 160

MW 3 - 4:15
Mariposa 1010

Hours: Tues 11:50-1pm
Weds 4:20-5:30 pm


The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice, Henry IV Part One, Hamlet, Macbeth (Folger editions)


Successful completion of Writing Proficiency Exam or English 109W/109M.

Course Description

This course is designed to introduce students to the works of William Shakespeare. It is a writing-intensive class in which the discussions will be enriched by the perspectives of readers from different disciplines.

We will begin with a brief discussion of Shakespeare's sonnets and then go on to read five of his most popular plays: two comedies, two tragedies, and a history. We will study Shakespeare's representation of various themes, such as love, desire, hatred, power, ambition, and a myriad of other human problems that perplex, trouble, and sometimes overwhelm his enduring characters.

In this class, you will be encouraged to develop your own readings and communicate them effectively to others. Few interpretations are simply "wrong," so trust your own interpretive skills and be prepared to listen with an open mind.

This course fulfills the University Writing Intensive requirement.

Learning Objectives

  1. to introduce students to a selection of plays representing different aspects of Shakespeare's dramatic and poetic genius
  2. to give students some insight into the workings of the Elizabethan/Jacobean stage and to help them see how the printed text translates into a dramatic event
  3. to enable students to understand the relevance of Shakespeare's themes and concerns to our modern world
  4. to give students practice in analyzing the texts and expressing their views on the plays in class discussion and in writing.


Faculty Home Page

English Department
California State University, Sacramento